Young Moses Lake girls swim team will learn on the fly

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Rodney Harwood/Columbia Basin Herald Moses Lake breaststroker Jennifer Oronia pulls through the water during Thursday's Moses Lake jamboree at Tony St. Onge Pool of Dreams.

MOSES LAKE — Tony St. Onge has had some who’s who of swimming teams at Moses Lake High School over the years. But this season, his girls team is more “who,” with 30 of his 43 participants being first-time swimmers.

“We're building towards a great finish,” said St. Onge, who’s program finished third in the District 6 meet in 2017. “Right now I'd say we’re in the middle of the pack as far the Big Nine. We’ll be up and down because of the experience level, but it’s a healthy process for the program with the numbers. We’ll be fine.”

They return 4A state qualifiers Cora Dana and Lacy Johnson. Both are seniors, both are sprinters, both are captains, and both have one more year and something yet to prove.

They are counting on the four captains, Jaydyn Johnson, Reagan Ewing, Lacy Johnson and Dana, to be the cog in the center of the wheel. They also return state qualifier Jessica Williams, who swam on the 200 freestyle relay with Dana, Lacy Johnson at the state meet, and Brittney Richeson, along with diver Bethany Bateman.

St. Onge expects some growing pains, but they’ll make their way up the standings by season’s end.

“Freestyler Laurell Knox is the impact swimmer among the new girls and we expect her to swim on all the relays,” St. Onge said.

They got their feet wet, so to speak, at the Moses Lake Jamboree and will start the regular season off against the district champion Wenatchee Panthers on Sept. 13.

“I’m coming off a shoulder injury, so I’ve been working back into it,” said Dana, who is a three-time state participant. “I’d like to see our (200 freestyle) relay go to state. Personally, I’d like to qualify with an individual swim. I qualified two years ago and I liked the challenge.

“I’ve been doing this for eight and a half years and swimming has been a big part of my life. This is my last year and I’d like to make the best of it.”

Lacy Johnson spent the summer in Alaska and didn’t get back in time to have her 10 practices completed in order to swim in Thursday’s jamboree. But the freestyler will hit the water against Wenatchee. It’s her last time around and she said she’d like to go out with a bang.

“I see a lot of potential with these young girls,” said Johnson, who is a two-time state qualifier. “I’m really excited for this year. The 100 (freestyle) is my race. It’s still a sprint, but you have time to breath and pace yourself.

“I’ve been really focusing on my turns and kicking, which I’ve discovered is really important. I’ve been working on my stroke and extending my arms, reaching out more. I just get better and better every year I do this and this is my last year.”

The Chiefs will be on the road all the way through September with away meets against Wenatchee (Sept. 13), West Valley (Sept. 20), Sunnyside (Sept. 2) and the Mukilteo Invitational (Sept. 29).

Their home opener isn’t until Oct. 14 when they host AC Davis.

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